GOT IT! Intrepid amateur archeologist Andy Darley (aka 'Astro Random') comes over all Indiana Jones and finds the long-lost Cube. Perplex City is overjoyed and Mind Candy is delighted, while Darley keeps his cool and offers some sage advice: "Take more care of it next time."
Just a few weeks past the third anniversary of the Receda Cube's theft, the Cube has been found on Earth. Mind Candy has confirmed that the Cube has been located and been turned over to them by one Andy Darley, from Feltham, Middlesex, in the United Kingdom. According to Darley, the Cube had been buried in the Wakerley Great Wood, a public forest in southern England on Earth. He found it Sunday afternoon, he said, and contacted Mind Candy on Monday. Mind Candy did not release news of the find until now for fear of perpetuating a hoax, but Mind Candy now reports that Darley has visited their offices and the discovery of the true Cube has been confirmed.
Andy Darley, 39, is a freelance designer and writer from Feltham, Middlesex. His hunt for the Cube began in December 2005. Since then, he's solved over 252 puzzles, achieving a rank of 49th on the Perplexcity.com leaderboard.
Darley says found the Cube, he said, with the assistance of a mysterious person he calls "Combed Thunderclap," who allegedly took the Cube to prevent its theft by the Third Power. This anonymous person has for some time been altering the puzzle cards sent by the Academy to include clues to the Cube's location; one in particular sent Cube-hunters on Earth to a secret web site, invisible from Earth, called the Library of Babel, which told the story of the theft and including increasingly urgent hints as to the Cube's hiding place on Earth. Cube-hunters on Earth, following these clues, narrowed the Cube's hiding spot to an 80-mile footpath in England called the Jurassic Way.
"I went there on the Thursday, just thrilled to be helping, but I still never imagined that I'd find the Cube. On Friday, I went there at 4am -- and it takes a lot to get me out of bed at 4am," Darley said. ""I wanted to give it my best shot, but when I left on Friday evening about 9pm, with my trowel in my bag and fork over my shoulder, knowing that I was walking away from Â£100,000, I still thought 'well, I gave it my best shot, I never *really* had a chance of finding it', you know?
"I imagined that someone would come along and keep digging in the hole I'd started and find it three inches deeper, but I thought, hey, that's the way it goes.
"I spent the Saturday at home with a thumping migraine, thinking - I know where I went wrong. I know where it is. But somebody's digging it up right now... and when it became clear that nobody had got it on Saturday, I couldn't believe that I had another chance. So on Sunday, I got up at sunrise again, and that was the first moment when I thought I had a real chance.
"I spent 3 hours digging in the wrong place. I've had some archaeological training, and a professional archaeologist would have been proud. It was the most beautiful trench you'd ever seen - lovely vertical sides, with cut-sections so you could see if there was a hole in it... but yeah, completely the wrong place."
He concluded: "Of all the 50,000 players, from all these different countries, I never thought for a moment I would be the person to find The Cube. ... It wasn't until only a few days ago that I thought I was in with a chance. As I pulled the Cube from the sticky, wet clay, and even after I'd found it, as I was waiting to return the Cube, all I could think about is how bizarre the whole thing really was."
At the news of the find, Academy Master Sente Kiteway reportedly broke into boisterous and decidedly undignified cheering. "It's been hard to keep faith for this long," he said, "but I knew the fine men and women of Earth would not fail us in the end." There are reports of jubilation all over the city, including fireworks over the temple of the Brotherhood of the Six in the Old Town, and reportedly people are gathering to talk about the thrilling news all over the city.
The City Council has issued a brief proclamation congratulating Darley on his achievement. "We, the City Council, would like to thank Andy Darley for his work on behalf of Perplex City. As a token of our gratitude, not only will we bestow prize money of one million lecks, but we will also commission a monument to preserve the memory of this historic day. ... On behalf of each and every citizen of Perplex City, we thank you."
In return, Darley had some advice for Perplexians: "Take more care of it next time."
The Academy has not yet disclosed whether or how it intends to bring the Cube back to Perplex City.